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By William H. Benson

Alex Haley and 'Roots'


January 19, 2022

Roots, the television miniseries, aired over eight nights, from Sunday, January 23, through Sunday, January 30, in 1977, forty-five years ago. It proved wildly successful, despite ABC executives’ fears about showing white men kidnapping, buying, selling, and whipping black men, and women. 

It made television history though. Some 30 million people watched it every night, although I missed the episodes, something I now regret, because I was busy studying in college.

Based loosely upon Alex Haley’s book of the same name that he published the year before, the miniseries followed the lives...

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